Archive for Alex Brown

The Babadook Movie Review

Posted in Alexander S. Brown, babadook movie, cult favorites, discussion, entertaining, entertainment, fandom, foreign films, foreign horror films, foreign movies, frightening, Horror, Horror Movies, movie discussion, movie review, movies, new horror movies, scary, scary movies, the babadook with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2015 by Alexander S. Brown

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“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.” This statement is very true as Jennifer Kent’s debut feature length movie, The Babadook, haunts its viewer long after its conclusion.  As for the women in horror month, The Babadook will become a tradition for February.

This is a piece that I like to call an “In the Moment” movie.  It’s something that doesn’t need to have a beginning, or an actual ending, it just is.  At the start of The Babadook, I received the vibe of this having a dreamlike quality to its perspective, where the mother (Amelia, played by Essie Davis) is awakened from sleep, perhaps what we know is her last night of peaceful sleep.  By her awakening, we are introduced to her troubled five year old son (Samuel, played by Noah Wiseman), who has a great knowledge in booby-traps and weaponry.  We can see early on that he has trouble obeying his mother’s wishes, yet, his love for her is strong and loyal.

As we see mother and child cope with anxiety, depression, aloneness, and withdrawal from the outer world, we are already on edge as the scene is set for something to go horribly wrong. And as always, it does get worse, before it gets better.

The evil in this movie comes in the form of a gruesome children’s pop-up book called, Mr. Babadook. Despite the mother’s reluctance of reading this to her child, who suffers night terrors, he begs her to read it and she bows to his plea. Besides Samuel booby-trapping the house and having a knowledge in weaponry, this is another “In the Moment” scene.  When Samuel selects this title, Amelia appears puzzled, as if she’s wondering how this book found its way into her home. Only a few pages into this book, which depicts The Babadook as a boogeyman style figure, she quits reading.  Shortly after, paranormal elements start unraveling the lives of mother and son, more so than the elements in our external world.

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The fear inspired by The Babadook is something that I find interesting between terrorizing mother and son. For Samuel, The Babadook appears in places where we would expect the boogeyman to lurk, such as the closet or under the bed. For Amelia, The Babadook appears in places that could be fearful or dangerous to adults, such as a police station (where the ultimate form of help should be, but it isn’t in this circumstance), and a moving vehicle (a reminder of her husband’s death via wreckage).

I particularly liked the scene where Amelia pulled her tooth out, since the movie felt like a dream state to me, it seemed suitable to have her extract her tooth.  Reason being is, dream interpretation suggests that when one dreams of pulling teeth, it is a sign that the person will grow or undergo radical changes, sometimes it can reflect the difficulty of letting something important go.  Emotionally, this is exactly what Amelia does – she grows, becomes stronger, and finds closure in her husband’s death.

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This movie focuses strongly on depression and anxiety.  It shows how our personal demons can rip us apart from the inside out, and prevent us from our full potential and the love we can share with others.  For me, The Babadook conveys a strong message.  The conclusion of the movie, hints the only way to overcome personal demons is to face them head on, conquer them, and then learn to live with them.  Only then can we advance and live with ourselves and others.

I might receive responses bashing my interpretation of The Babadook, but I consider this to be a beautiful movie that is a piece of art, and like all art, it is open for interpretation.  How did you interpret The Babadook?

Best Wishes,

Alexander S. Brown

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Ghost Hunting Philosophy by Alexander S. Brown

Posted in Alexander S. Brown, discussion, ghost hunting, ghosts, Halloween, holidays, Horror, investigation, october, paranormal, spirits with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

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One of the most famous questions throughout history – Do ghosts exist?  I am not here to convince you if they do, but to share a philosophy which could help the questionable mind. Having participated within multiple paranormal investigations and séances, I have, in some circumstances, interacted with the spirit realm and other times I have encountered unfruitful situations.  Throughout this blog I have posted photos that are unexplained.

Rules in my philosophy when conducting a paranormal experiment.

  1. Enter the investigation with a skeptical mind, debunk, debunk, debunk, and when you’re done, debunk some more.  The goal should be to prove the location is not haunted. (Debunking includes: reenacting questionable sounds and photos, and checking wiring.  When doing an E.V.P. voice check – such as if you sneeze, say clearly after, “Alex sneezing.”  Believe it or not but sneezing, coughing, yawning, etc. can sound extremely demonic – this is why voice tags are important.)
  2. If all debunking is complete and the situation remains unsolved, it is time to consider perhaps the disturbance is paranormal.
  3. One should not think a paranormal investigation should yield results in the first visit.  A location should be investigated multiple times.  I have encountered cases which have lasted weeks to months and some that remain cold cases.
  4. When all debunking has failed and conversing with a spirit is necessary, the number one rule is not to antagonize the departed.  Remember you are entering the home of the spirit and if it doesn’t want to speak with you, it doesn’t have to.  Antagonizing the spirit is a bullying method that causes negativity.  The situation can be like a chat room bully, the protagonist will either be ignored or retaliated against.
  5. When investigating, take notes and share them when the investigation concludes.  If you hear a voice on the E.V.P., write down what you think it says. Speaking an assumption can influence the thoughts of others.

Example:  You have a group of six investigators.  All investigators write down what they think they hear in the E.V.P. recording.  One of the six writes, “I’m going to get you.”  The other five write, “I can’t forget you.”  A vote of five win over the one.

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Demons vs. Spirits

Such as angels and spirits, demons do exist.  However, the chance of seeing a demon is rarer than seeing a spirit and equally as rare as seeing an angel or spirit guide.

People will say they are haunted by a demon.  In most cases, if the situation can’t be debunked, they are simply haunted by an angry spirit.  My argument is if a person is a jerk in life, death won’t make him or her any nicer.  If a situation does prove to be demonic, refer to a church leader for assistance.  This is of course after debunking, psychiatric evaluation, and observation.

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Reality vs. Entertainment

When we think of hauntings we think of movies such as the Paranormal Activity franchise, Poltergeist, etc.  The truth is, hauntings are not that extreme.  Even when TV shows reenactment hauntings, they bump up the scare factor for entertainment.  Actual hauntings are much more subtle, so subtle that unless you have the correct equipment (E.V.P.’s, cameras, EMF readers, etc.) the disturbance can be easily dismissed.

Demonic activity does exist and includes: scratching, bruising, depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

As you can see the symptoms of a haunting can be similar to a house with settling problems and a demonic attack could be nothing more than a troubled mind.  This is why you must investigate nonstop and do whatever it takes to debunk the situation of being paranormal.  By debunking you can save a family the stress of wondering what could be happening when the problem is simply poor floorboards, bad pluming, and electrical issues.  You can also save a troubled person the mental stress of what they think is a demonic attack by politely suggesting a psychiatric evaluation.  In more extreme situations where they are demonic entities, only professionals should investigate.

Now that we have considered the possibilities of hauntings and demonic attacks, I am here to say that both do exist, however, their existence isn’t as common as one would think.  Again, your goal is to prove a house is not haunted or a person isn’t possessed, any other goal when conducting an investigation, which does not include the mental or physical betterment of the client (those investigators who rule out debunking and go straight to “this house is haunted scenario”) are investigators, who have either not had the proper training or looking for fame.

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Author Guest H. David Blalock Reflects on Halloween

Posted in author interviews, Fiction, H.David Blalock, Halloween, Horror, Horror Anthology, Horror Book, Horror Books, Independent Horror, interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

At last, October is here. Although I plan to contribute more reviews on Halloween themed entertainment, I thought it would be fun to invite a few authors and artists throughout October to share their views and memories of Halloween.

Our first featured guest is a prolific author known by his fans as H. David Blalock. His writing talents are superb examples of diversity within the literary world. Some of his horror stories can be found in the anthologies Southern Haunts: Spirits that Walk Among Us and Southern Haunts 2: Devils in the Darkness. Look for his name again in the upcoming Southern Haunts 3: Magic in the Moonlight. Even though these are only a few titles, be sure to check out his series The Angel Killer Triad, now available where books are sold.

Before we jump into our interview, here is a little back story on Mr. Blalock:

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Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician. Hiring into the FAA, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. He later moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC where he remained until retirement.

David’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer’s sites. For more information on David, his work and appearances, visit his website: www.thranKeep.com .

What does Halloween mean to you?

Not nearly as much today as it did when I was young. Nowadays I don’t see as much meaning in it as I did when trick or treating was my main goal. Today, it’s just another holiday.

What is your most memorable Halloween?

We used to have some remarkable Halloween parties. At one in particular, I remember a bonfire that precipitated a particular set of events, including: a significant amount of liquor, several attendees, a can of gasoline, a large blue flash, melted boot soles, and the first and only time I have ever seen a human being jump straight up in the air and then be displaced several feet before hitting the ground, running at full speed.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

I usually spend it quietly, sometimes with friends and family. I live in an area where there are few kids and we seldom have visitors, so I enjoy the quiet time.

What was your best Halloween costume?

When I was a boy I probably had a couple but I can’t remember. I’ve slept since then.

What was your worst Halloween costume?

I would have to say the one I wore a few years ago, during one of our Halloween parties: the Kingpin from the Spiderman comics. Don’t ask.

Some people believe Halloween is a negative Holiday to celebrate. Why do you feel Halloween has such a controversy to it?

Because it has a religious background to it. The real name of the holiday is “All Hallow’s Eve” and it is actually supposed to be the first of the days that is reserved for praying for the dead. The others are All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2). By associating the sacred days with pagan symbols, ghosts, ghouls, etc. those who object are scandalized.

What do you do to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween night?

I find that a good single-malt whiskey does wonders.

What frightens you and why?

I find today’s splatterpunk and gore off-putting, not because it’s repulsive but because it has nothing to do with real fear. To me the fear of death is humanity’s common understanding of its mortality. What really frightens me is not what I know is inevitable but what I don’t know: the unknown. Will it kill me or will it do something that might make me wish I were dead? Worse, will it do something that will affect me beyond that veil?

What’s your favorite scary movie and why?

The Robert Wise film The Haunting (1963), co-written by Shirley Jackson and Nelson Gidding. It was based on The Haunting of Hill House and did a fantastic job conveying the atmosphere and emotion from the novel while maintaining an understated quality that made the fear that much more exaggerated to me.

What’s your favorite horror book and why?

I really can’t nail that one down. I have many favorite horror authors. Lovecraft, Maachen, Bierce, Dunsany, Chambers, Campbell… I could go on and on.

Do you prefer slow burners or fast paced thrillers?

The slow burners are my favorites. They build atmosphere and let you become part of the story before digging in with their claws.

What inspires your more frightening work?

I like to think I’ve continued the ideas and concepts put forward by the masters of the first half of the 20th century. Psychological horror to me is much more effective than just the shock value of today.

Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?

Yes. I look forward to writing more and editing more in the next few years than I have done in the past.

Where can we find your work?

I have work available from several different publishers. Most of my work is available from Amazon (a list of currently available titles is at http://www.amazon.com/H.-David-Blalock/e/B00JPGRLAM/) and all online booksellers as well as the publisher websites. My website (www.thrankeep.com) has links to work at webzines.

Halloween Inspired Horror Movies

Posted in Alexander S. Brown, Fiction, Horror, Horror Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

As October approaches, we are granted many opportunities to indulge in the spirit of the Halloween. This is the time of year that leaves descend from their branches and the air develops a cool breeze, allowing us to enjoy mugs of hot apple cider, pumpkin inspired pastries, and hearty stews.

Throughout the decades, Halloween has been celebrated in diverse customs from Pagan to Christian, causing superstitions and folklore to blend amongst towns and cities. In current times, the celebration of Halloween continues in masquerades, haunted houses, séances, trick or treating, parades, bonfires, games, and horror movies.

The following is a list of movies that are Halloween inspired.

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Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a made for TV movie from 1981. Throughout the years, it has stood the test of time and created a nightmare that has haunted generations. With its pacing, suspense, and young hearted innocence, it reminds me of Little House on the Prairie with a Jason Voorhees twist. The locations, costuming, and community appear worn and faded, adding a greater depth and richness to the movie, and leaving the viewer juxtaposed between seeing the town as wholesome yet ruthless. Although tame in nature, it proves that guts and gore are not mandatory elements for a good scary movie.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow focuses on a small town filled with a tight knit community and murder. Larry Drake portrays an adult character equivalent in mentality to his friend – a child neighbor. After an accident, Drake’s playmate is assumed dead. Since the character which Drake portrays is mentally stunted, a few locals assume he has harmed her. To avenge her death, four men execute Drake.

After his murder, this whodunit film bestows vengeance upon each man who partook in Drake’s death. To make this movie even more fun, the four men meet their own grim fate by inventive ways.

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October would not be complete without John Carpenter’s Halloween. At this point, we all know Halloween focuses on a babysitter, Jamie Lee Curtis, who is being stalked by an escaped murderer from the local insane asylum.

This classic is a slow burner with an impactful end result. For an hour and a half subtle elements are used to frighten us, such as scenes of stalking, sound effects, and of course the unforgettable music score. Halloween is a prime example of how a movie made on a shoestring budget can create an iconic character and heroine if all correct ingredients are utilized.

Fun Facts: Jamie Lee Curtis was hired not only for her talents but because she was related to Psycho’s star Janet Leigh, making Curtis a greater asset to the film. The Michael Myers mask is in fact a white painted William Shatner mask. If you look close at the original poster art, you can see a hidden image in the knuckles of the hand gripping the knife. And the movie The Thing which is playing on the television, would later be remade by John Carpenter.

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Trick r’ Treat is a treasure neglected from a mainstream opening because there was fear it couldn’t compete with Saw IV. This resulted in a straight to DVD release and it quickly gained a fan base among movie buffs. Artistically crafted to appear as if Norman Rockwell had a nightmare, Trick r’ Treat proves a vintage Halloween style can be achieved and enjoyed in modern day.

This movie focuses on four interwoven short stories that feature maniacs, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and the spirit of Halloween. The audience can expect tales of gore, original plots, fun characters, and dark humor within its dialogue. One of my all-time favorite lines is when the serial killer’s son yells at his dad, “BUT CHARLIE BROWN’S AN ASSHOLE!”

Fun Facts: Trick r’ Treat was inspired by an animated short called Season’s Greetings. Characters from each story are seen in the background of segments they aren’t involved with, this is done to link all stories chronologically together for the ending.

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Night of the Demons is possibly the most famous movie about a group of kids who party at a possessed house. Taking place on Halloween, we view scenes that are frightening, grotesque, and prank inspired.

It has been noted lead actress, Amelia Kinkade, said this movie was filmed in a time where everything, effects wise, was real. The scene where she is warming her hands in the fire was achieved by perfect timing. For instance, Kinkade had a gel on her hands that would prevent the fire from harming her. Still, she was time pressured because the fire could burn through the gel within seconds. For safety, a water bucket was kept nearby to extinguish the flame. It has also been noted the scene where the demons were set on fire was real as the actors/actresses were actually set aflame.

With dedication of the crew placed aside, this movie has a great old school Halloween vibe to it with an awesome soundtrack. One of my favorite scenes in Night of the Demons is where Kinkade has become possessed and she performs an erotic thrash dance to the song Stigmata Martyr. Another infamous scene regards a tube of lipstick shoved up Linnea Quigley’s nipple. If you’re curious to how this is possible, just watch the movie.

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I stumbled across Satan’s Little Helper a few months ago. Taking place on Halloween, Douglas is a gullible child obsessed with a video game called Satan’s Little Helper. The object of the game is for Satan’s Little Helper to assist Satan in sending souls to Hell. When Douglas becomes confused between game and reality, he stumbles across a serial killer dressed as Satan. Throughout the movie, the serial killer is assisted by Douglas luring other characters to their death.

Amusing scenes include: the killer arranging dead bodies on the front porch as Halloween decorations, the hit and run scene where Douglas is listing off the points system for each person they hit, and the silent, unsettling ending, which instigates both a smile and a chill.

Created by Jeff Lieberman who gave us such classics like Squirm, Just Before Dawn, and Blue Sunshine, this writer/director shows that even after a long career gap, he doesn’t lose his touch on humor, horror, and characters. Also, the cast, especially the child actor appeared as if they had fun filming this, which means a lot by today’s demands.

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I am probably going to receive hate mail for this suggestion but Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is a good standalone sequel. Although I’m not certain how part 3 fits into the Michael Myers franchise, we do learn that in The Curse of Michael Myers a satanic cult is the reason he grew into an undying maniac. My speculation on this cult in The Curse of Michael Myers vs. the manufacturer in Halloween 3 urges me to assume that the two cults are connected. If this is so, maybe Halloween 3 is showing the multiple attempts this cult pursued to cause death?

My favorite scene happens to be one of the most shocking moments in the movie. Midway into the film, we have a family who is given a tour of the mask factory. The child of this family is provided with a mask that sports a silver shamrock on the back. Upon wearing this mask and watching a commercial with subliminal messages, his head explodes, releasing hordes of insects and venomous snakes.

This movie touches on how corporations have capitalized on Halloween and how they can snake their way into our homes due to the products we purchase from them. Perhaps Halloween 3’s true message is consumer beware?

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House of 1000 Corpses was Rob Zombie’s debut movie that provided villains who were more likeable than the heros or heroines. This 70’s style psychedelic trip movies like what would happen if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dropped acid.

Taking place on Halloween Eve, a group of kids explore the back roads of rural America looking for legends and dime museums. They learn about a local maniac, Dr. Satan. Although advised not to explore the Dr. Satan mythos, they disobey and find themselves in a dire situation.

Seasoned with an iconic star list, horror fans are given a plethora of talents amongst characters, especially those portrayed by Karen Black, Sid Hag, Bill Mosley, and Sherri Moon. As if the casting isn’t great enough, the soundtrack is filled with creepy country music and rock classics.

By using old school horror techniques and effects, we are subject to scenes that regard scalpings, body modification, and hellish creatures.

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Trick or Treat is a 1980’s rock and roll Halloween inspired movie, featuring cameos by music legends: Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne. Trick or Treat begins as your typical high school bully movie. The lead character, Eddie Weinbauer, is a victim of ongoing pranks who turns to heavy metal music for coping. His refuge offers an outlet until he hears news of his rock and roll idol, Sammi Curr, dying.

Following this tragedy, he discovers his idol’s spirit is reaching out through hidden messages. Such as the Ouija board, he uses Curr’s albums by playing them backwards to provide him with directions on exacting revenge upon his enemies. Although the vibe isn’t deeply saturated in Halloween culture, Trick or Treat does take place during the season.

My favorite scene is when a green demon materializes from a pair of headphones in the form of smoke. The first time I watched this formation, it brought a sense of dread over me as I was unsure what this smoke was going to morph into. The structure of the demon was another visual I didn’t expect, yet, for me its form worked and reminded me of a more sinister evil from perhaps Hinson’s Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal.

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Although this list is minor in length, I suggest readers to check out my other blogs regarding Minority Horror and Controversial Movies for more suggestions. For parents, if you are looking for movies to preoccupy your kids then they might enjoy classics such as: Hocus Pocus, Casper, Disney’s the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Halloween is Grinch Night, The Halloween Tree, The Nightmare before Christmas, and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Return next week as I blog about Halloween themed books.

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 Best Wishes,

Alexander S. Brown